We Talked To Daya About Songwriting, Authenticity, And Why Self-Care Is A Secret To Success

On a cold, rainy afternoon in Columbia, South Carolina, people filed into a cozy event space. They were all ages, from all walks of life, but they all had two things in common: The first, they were fans of singer and songwriter Daya (but come on, who isn't?); the second, they were members of Verizon's loyalty program, Verizon Up.

As a thank you to valued customers, Verizon Up offers fans the opportunity to take part in bespoke events and get up close and personal with their favorite artists. How personal, you ask? The events are exclusive, intimate, and never exceed an audience of 30 people. Other artist collaborations have included the likes of Skylar Grey, X Ambassadors, Rae Sremmurd, and Kali Uchis. Um, yes please!

But on this rainy afternoon, it was all about Daya as we settled in for a one-of-a-kind listening session and a revealing Q&A with the coolest woman in pop.

To an audience of 25, Daya opened up about everything from what she's learned from being a young woman in a male-dominated industry to what it's *actually* like to perform onstage in an arena. We were lucky enough to get the chance to chat with Daya one-on-one, where we dove a little deeper into her past, her process, and what makes her music so relatable.

Here's what we learned.

She turned an insecurity into an asset.

When asked about what it's like being a young woman in a male-dominated industry, Daya didn't hold back. She talked about her initial intimidation at working exclusively with older male producers, but she went on to explain how this intimidation factor motivated her to speak up for herself when it comes to songwriting. Instead of crumbling under the pressure, she woman'd up and made her insecurity work for her.

Her songs are taken right from her personal experience.

According to Daya, all of her hits have started with her journal. She writes everything down — thoughts, feelings, experiences — and then revisits her chronicles during the songwriting process. The final product is a repertoire of songs that ring true to listeners because they're drawn straight from *her* reality.

She's fiercely authentic.

One of the themes that kept popping up throughout our conversation was authenticity. Daya credited staying true to herself as the thing that helped her avoid being taken advantage of as a newcomer to the industry, and she believes it's this unrelenting authenticity that helps people of all kinds relate to her music.

Her advice for young women just starting out? "Listen to yourself. Don't let other people try to swing you one way or another. Just be true to you."

Bigger crowds = fewer nerves.

While she loves performing for crowds of all sizes, Daya let us in on a little secret about playing arena shows: When you can't see anyone's faces, you feel wayyy less pressure as a result. It sounds paradoxical but on second thought, being able to see fans' reactions to your music in real time sounds much scarier than playing for a sold out — but pitch black — stadium.

Self-care is one of the secrets to her success.

When you think of ways to get to the top of your field, taking time to step back and stop working doesn't exactly come to mind. But for Daya, implementing (and sticking to!) a self-care routine turned out to be hugely beneficial to her wellbeing AND to her career. For her, the challenge was striking a balance between her fierce work ethic and making time for the fun stuff — going to the spa, bingeing a new tv series, getting a massage — that allows her to zone out and recharge.

In her own words:

"Self-care is so important and that's something that I didn't really prioritize when I started out. I was someone who always wanted to bury myself in my work. But the best thing you can do for your mental health and growth is to take a step back and be proud of your accomplishments. I had a hard time doing that when I started out but I think that [practicing self-care] is the main thing this past year that's provided me with this [career] growth."

Do you want the chance to attend one of these private fan experiences? All you have to do is enroll in Verizon Up through the My Verizon App, and you'll earn rewards just for paying your monthly bill. How easy is that?

This post is sponsored by Verizon.